The Great Commission, missions, missionary—these words are thrown around in Christian circles, usually, with a particular connotation of “going” somewhere to evangelise/share the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a sense of sacrifice, giving up some level of material comfort for the sake of the gospel, or leaving behind family members or the like. However, the great mistake of the Great Commission is to think only of the “going” and not realise the call is so much greater.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
— Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
The misconception of the Great Commission
The misconception is not completely wrong, the commission begins, “Go…” However, it is foolish to build an entire concept of mission on this single word. The Great Commission, rather, commissions the Christian to do a number of things: 1) go, 2) make disciples, 3) baptise them, and 4) teach them. When all these are considered, then we are in a better position to formulate a concept of mission. Over these next few weeks, I will explore
6 facets of mission (derived from the 6 practices of mission of OMF International): going, learning, welcoming, sending, praying, and mobilising OMF’s 6 ways to reach God’s world.
The concept of “going” is often connected with the idea of moving away from home or your local community, in many cases, “going” involves some sort of relocation, but is it the intention of the Great Commission? Jesus’ intention, surely, was to provoke a dissatisfaction with the status quo of life and “go” and share the transforming news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, for a period of time, a number of the apostles didn’t leave the region of Judea, or were only gone for short periods of time.
The commission of the Great Commission
The commission to “go” may very well be a commission to stay, to stay exactly where you are. The gospel needs to be heard and shared right here on your doorstep as much as it does in another part of the world. Maybe it’s your workplace, maybe it’s your school, maybe it’s your next door neighbour, maybe it’s a family member…maybe it’s the drug addict stumbling through town, the alcoholic who swears he’ll give up the drink, or the single mother who is on the brink of hopelessness and despair. Will you “go” to them?
The Great Commission is encased by two important assertions by Jesus: 1) all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, and 2) I am with you always, to the end of the age. It is in the context of these assertions that Jesus commissions his disciples and the body of Christ to “go” into the world with the good news of the gospel. There is no right or wrong. Whether you go overseas or stay in your home country, the commission to “go” however still stands. You may never leave the town or city in which you now live, you may never see the lights of a foreign city, you may never speak to someone in another language, but you just might “go” and transform the life of someone who needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.